This year I visited Ecuador for the first time. Besides Quito and Galapagos, I didn’t know much about the country. But, once I stepped into it, Ecuador delivered much more than I expected.
To say that Ecuador is beautiful is an understatement. It is a country that with its biodiversity and varied culture, will find a way to make you fall in love with it. These are some of the reasons that made me love Ecuador, and that probably will make you love it too.
1. The Galapagos Islands
I’ll start with the 800-pound gorilla; Galapagos! As exotic as it is, Galapagos is not as remote and unreachable as many people think. In fact, it is easy, you can fly with LAN Airlines to Quito or Guayaquil, and from there to Galapagos with the same airline.
Sometimes you can even find roundtrips to Galapagos for as low as $250. These islands, considered to be Darwin’s playground, offer a view to a world where there’s almost no human intervention and nature lives and evolves on its own.
It is a place considered to be unique in the world, and one you should experience at least once in your life. I loved getting up close to nature, both above ground and underwater, and seeing firsthand unique species not found anywhere else on the planet. And my favorite, diving with the friendly seals!
I wrote previously about how you can visit Galapagos on a budget, so make sure to check it out!
2. Several Ecosystems Compacted in One Country
It’s incredible how in just a moderate sized country, you can have so many ecosystems. Altitude influences most ecosystems in Ecuador since Ecuador shares part of the Andes with its neighboring countries.
You have high peaked and snow-capped mountains in the Andes, then heavily forested Andean Valleys. Then on the outskirts of the Andes, as the terrain keeps sloping down you have the cloud forests, full of rich flowering plants like bromeliads and orchids.
Then we enter the Amazon basin with its huge trees and vines that give the perfect jungle environment – since, after all, it’s the Amazon Jungle!
If that’s not enough, there are even dry forests in Ecuador too. And last but not least, the volcanic islands of Galapagos and several other volcanoes in mainland Ecuador.
If you want to take a peek at all these environment, you’ll need a lot of time there. That’s one reason Ecuador deserves a lot of time. It is very diverse!
3. The Equator
While Ecuador is not the only country located along the equator, it is the only one named after it. Just outside of Quito –Ecuador’s capital city– you’ll find a monument marking where the Equator passes through.
The funny thing is, there are two monuments. One is the “government’s official monument,” which is already known not to be in the accurate position, and the other one is “home-made” with an accurate GPS position.
The government one is fun to take pictures with your body halfway on both poles, but on the home-made one, it is fun to experiment balancing an egg on top of a nail (it’s possible) and see how water rotates differently on both poles and not at all right on the equator line.
4. The Small Town of Montañita
This is probably my favorite town in Ecuador. It is a small beach town three hours away from Guayaquil, where backpackers make base to chill in its hippy vibes and surf on its waves. I went to Montañita to relax for a few days.
I fell so much in love with it that I decided to stay longer until I had to fly to Galapagos.
The town is just a few blocks big in each direction, and the beach is always full of action, both from the waves and from locals and tourists relaxing, hanging, or partying. Next time I go to Ecuador, a stop in Montañita will be a must!
5. The Swing at the End of the World
Now, this is an extra thing that I haven’t been able to experience, but I’m dying to. One good reason to go back! In the city of Baños, there’s a treehouse swing set right at the edge of a hill, making it look like your swinging hundreds of feet above the ground.
The treehouse above the swing is actually an observation center for Mt. Tungurahua, the active volcano you can see from there. And if you’re lucky, you might even see it erupting while swinging about 100 feet above the canyon floor!
Much love for Ecuador?!
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